Category Archives: Writing and Editing

Do You Have a Favorite Dictionary and Thesaurus Web Site?

I’ve been writing and editing for many years, and I always have a dictionary and thesaurus by my side. In the “old” days, these were hard copy books. When I first moved to the online world, I kept these books beside me – and often I had at least two dictionaries.

Favorite Dictionary Site

screen shot of page from onelook.com, word searched was audio

But a couple years back, I discovered I could have hundreds of dictionaries by my side if I visited OneLook Dictionary Search. According to their web site, “More than 5 million words in more than 1000 online dictionaries are indexed by the OneLook® search engine.” These dictionaries are broken down by type. For this example, I searched on the word audio. In addition to the three dictionary types displayed in this screen shot, four others were retrieved: Computing, Medicine, Slang, and Tech – for a total of 43 dictionaries. Easy enough to access these dictionaries by clicking on the links. Very nice!

Favorite Thesaurus Site

And, my favorite thesaurus site is Thesaurus.com. Type a word in the search box and, as is true in many thesauri, results are broken down by definition, and each definition contains synonyms and antonyms.

thesaurus2

Clicking a definition, synonym, or antonym, displays its page in thesaurus.com – and there you are with more entries.

Or, scroll down to see some sample sentences and a visual thesaurus. If you find this type of word mapping helpful, you may want to purchase a subscription. Click one of the words to connect to the Visual Thesaurus page.

OneLook Dictionary Search includes a reverse dictionary where you can describe a concept and a list of words are returned to you. Thesaurus.com incorporates other perks, including a daily crossword puzzle and a crossword solver! And something the old hard copies just couldn’t do: both sites include audio pronunciation. Now that’s a really great eLearning eLement!

It Could Happen to You: Inadvertent Copyright Infringement

gavelI’ve posted before (5/31/12) on the need to be mindful of copyright and fair use when using material created by others. I was reminded of this again via a tweet I came across by @PublishingGuru Jason Rutherford (via @passivevoiceblg). The tweet linked to an excerpt from this article  by author Roni Loren Bloggers Beware: You Can Get Sued for Using Pics on Your Blog.

The title pretty much says it all. Ms. Loren inadvertently infringed on a photographer’s intellectual property. She’d posted one of his photos, found through a Google search, on her blog. Despite taking the picture down within minutes of being contacted by him, it was necessary to get lawyers involved in the situation.

view of courthouse and steps leading up to itYou can read “the rest of the story” here, where Ms. Loren also provides some insights on Fair Use and some tips on how to find and use photos that won’t get you into legal trouble!

Oh, and if you’re curious about the photos used in this post, they’re from one of my favorite sites, morgueFile. And here’s what the permissions say about the photos used here: You are allowed to copy, distribute, transmit the work and to adapt the work. Attribution is not required. You are prohibited from using this work in a standalone manner.

Copyright and fair use: 2 important “eLements of eLearning.”

Script Writing Tip

As I mentioned in my first post (5/15/12), I plan to discuss a variety of “eLements of eLearning” in this blog. One of the elements, for some of us, is script writing.

I typically prepare a script ahead of time, and insert comments to myself. I type these in red, to separate them from the script itself. In this video, I describe how to create a macro in Microsoft® Word® that quickly removes these comments so a clean script can be sent along  to the client.

Proofreading

Many of us don’t himage of two hands holding a paper with typing on it - one hand is holding a penave the luxury of having copy editors to proof our work, and yet proofreading is really an important eLearning element.

I use a variety of methods when I proofread, but the one I wanted to share today involves listening rather than reading.

It’s really surprising to me – or maybe it shouldn’t be any longer – that I can re-read content several times and STILL miss an error here or there. Somewhere along the line, I got the idea to copy my text into a text-to-speech application and listen to it as it was “read” back to me. Inevitably when I’ve done this, I’ve picked up at least one (embarrassing) mistake.

Free Natural Reader
The application I usually use now is Natural Reader. There are different versions available here, including free, personal, professional, and ultimate.

Microsoft® Anna comes with the free version. If she’s reading too quickly, I can adjust her pace with the speed bar. There are also controls to stop, pause, and resume the playback. And I can rewind back to the previous sentence or fast forward to the next one.

By default, a yellow highlight appears around each “narrated” sentence and a blue square appears over each word as it is “read.”

There are many more features available in the Free Version, including a Floating Toolbar that eliminates the need to copy and paste the text. And of course, the versions that you pay for include even more options.

Other Free Text to Speech Tools
Recently a post appeared in my Twitter feed with a link to 10 Free Text to Speech Tools for Educators.

If you’re a Twitter user, you may want to follow the individuals who provided this link: @cpappas and @medkh9. Oh, and you can follow me at @refco27.

Copyright and Fair Use

Knowledge of copyright and fair use guidelines are an important element of eLearning. Many years ago I was asked to create and present a workshop on this topic by a client who said, tongue in cheek, “it seems people think ‘copy right’ means they have “the right to copy.”

Recently I was part of a discussion where I heard an echo of the most oft-repeated fallacy I’d heard many years ago: It’s OK to use someone else’s “stuff” if you’re not making money from it and/or if it’s only for classroom or internal use. Unfortunately, that’s not true. But you can find out what IS true with a little bit of research.

This is my favorite Copyright Website. You can find information on copyright and fair use and view examples of infringement in the movies, in music, and on the Web. (Interesting aside: Did you know George Harrison was sued for subconscious copyright infringement of “My Sweet Lord?” You can check it out here).

If you’re looking for more information, you may want to start with the U.S. Copyright Office.

As you read this information, you’ll see that, as with many things in life, nothing is clear cut. So, it’s often best to check with the originator of the work.

Copyright Blue Computer Key courtesy of Stuart Miles /FreeDigitalPhotos.net.